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* Posts by Ledswinger

2142 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

ISPs set to install network-level smut filters despite Lib Dem opposition

Ledswinger
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Re: Global Insularism In a Global Market?@ Don Jefe

"You can't have keep it both ways."

Well, you're from the country in which topless sunbathing is largely frowned upon and even illegal, yet which is home to the world's porn industry, and the same country that defends the values of democracy through the National (domestic) Spying Agency.

Worth noting that what is proposed is "only" an opt in system. I shall be opting out (a) to look at the sort of material the internet was invented for, and (b) as a matter of principle, because I don't want lightweights like our political leaders censoring what I read. But in some ways I think a default filter is probably a good thing for those not clever enough to either install K9 or other filters for themselves, or alternatively monitor what their kids do. The common challenge of "you can work round it" is no more valid than suggesting you shouldn't lock a door because locks can be picked.

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'British Bill Gates' Lynch laments HP's Autonomy 'botch-up'

Ledswinger
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Re: >Lynch reckons there’s much that his Autonomy expats can offer young British startups

"Like how to flog a $1B company for $10B? A most useful talent to be sure. "

I think you credit Mr Lynch with far too much. From where I sit, it's boo ***ing hoo for the retards at HP; Poor little darlings, exercised the full extent of their corporate brains, spent millions on "due diligence" on "advice" from law firms and investment banks, and then still got caught out by suspect accounts? Did they really know nothing about the accounting that goes on in ANY enterprise software company? Currently the shallow, lightweight losers that make up HP's board are trying to sue Autonomy and the advisers, but that seems to ignore the point about why HP's directors were prepared to bid so recklessly, because even if the accounts were correct, then they still didn't support the price that HP were so keen to pay.

No, matey, if HP paid over the odds, then EVEN IF THERE WERE FRAUD, then it's all still the fault of HP's useless, value destroying board, rather than any sales talent on the part of Lynch. If HP's board aren't clever enough to undertake effective M&A, then they shouldn't be pulling down their exceptionally fat salaries. I might say the same about Microsoft, of course.......

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London Underground cleaners to refuse fingerprint clock-on

Ledswinger
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Re: punch card?

"I wonder how much it cost to put in this entirely pointlessly hi-tech clock in system, "

Not much I'd guess, given that the hardware is so common. If they do any audit or payroll of the time recording system, then chances are that the system will save money.

"the money saved on using something other than a bio-metric reader could have been spent on better work conditions for the staff, "

Why? Wages aren't defined by the employer's other costs nor on what's left over (that's what profit or loss are), it is defined by how much you have to pay in that locale given the other options available to the workforce. As an unskilled, grotty job, the underground cleaners wage will be as low as ISS can pay and sometimes have the workforce actually turn up.

Based on the observations of a family member who has worked on TFL contracts, I'd be unsurprised if many of the staff were not doing this as a second job on (in their eyes) essentially casual labour terms. And that's why the idea of some biometric proof would be most unwelcome, because of fears that this proof of identity will mean data being passed back to HMRC, affecting tax credits (or possibly even benefits being claimed). I think that assumes far more organisation on the part of the public sector than actually exists, but if I'm right, in the second job cleaner's shoes, I'd not want this. But tough - if they don't like it, there's plenty of other jobs in London they are at liberty to go and do.

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In MASSIVE surprise, world+dog discovers Nokia checked out Android

Ledswinger
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Re: Nokia becoming more like M$oft@ Ian 7

"Windows Phone does actually run pretty well on low-spec hardware; that was one of its design goals from the outset."

Which surely was a pointless goal. All the money is made on premium handsets so that's where user experience counts, and buyers at the bottom end are unduly influenced by whatever is topping the charts.

Samsung tried selling cheap phones with a non-Android OS (I think LG did, too) and the market still turned to Android. We'll see how the cheap phones with Firefox sell - my suspicion is that neither Firefox nor Ubuntu will endure.

If MS are banking on the capability of WP8 to run well on landfill handsets, then they're saying that phone purchasing decisions are logical. If that's the case, then why have so many of the expensive Lumias come in Chad Valley colours, why don't they have replaceable batteries, and why constrain their phone UI with an opinion polarising tile interface, with each one of these choices further sub-setting your potential market? Indeed, why produce the technically impressive, yet comically coloured, zero-battery life, camel humped 1020 if you think that the buyers of cheap handsets simply want a fluid user experience?

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Nokia's 41Mp Lumia 1020 'launches' in UK - but hoi polloi must wait

Ledswinger
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"surely it would make more sense to try and get these handsets in the hands of as many people as possible, rather than erect artificial and unnecessary barriers to owning one of these?"

As a premium tech product they are banking on the fact that the market for these will regard swapping network operator as no problem in return for the latest gadget. WIthin the limits of reception I don't care who my network operator is - which for me at home means O2 or Toada, but for the sort of geeky urban professionals this is undoubtedly targeted at, they probably have fairly respectable coverage from all networks. Obviously there's some behind the scenes wrestling over subsidies, bundles and promotion commitments by the exclusive network, plus the appeal to the network of an exclusive, but for the makers look at history: Exclusive deals certainly didn't do Apple any harm, so the question may simply be how attractive WinPho is, how "killer" the camera is for users, and whether the price is right.

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So WHY does Huawei's enigmatic boss shun the West's spotlight?

Ledswinger
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Re: Shunning Attention

"You know what elite group is comprised almost exclusively of ultra-wealthy industrialists who employ hundreds of thousands of faceless workers, have access to nearly unlimited technology and weaponry and also shuns public attention?"

Wall Street.

I would suggest that the political, financial and industrial leaders of the US are far more effective super villains than anybody in China.

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Ledswinger
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"Where "So much" equals about 8%. Not insignificant, but not the total ownership some like to paint."

In referring to the total, you miss the point. The cause of China's US debt ownership is the trade imbalance, and that has risen now to $30 billion dollars a month. The overall trade deficit of the US was less than $40bn in the last reported month, so China is (on a continuing basis) a huge creditor to the US. The reduction in US debt held by China over recent years also disguises the fact that previous treasury purchases have been sold and investments made elsewhere, and China has thus traded paper promises to pay by Uncle Sam for tangible assets in world markets. So it looks as though they've got less call on the US, in fact they've merely sold that call to somebody else, and they continue to accrue US obligations to pay to the tune of a billion dollars a day.

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iPhone 5S: Apple, you're BORING us to DEATH (And you too, Samsung)

Ledswinger
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Re: What is left to do?

"What more could we possibly need? That hasn't been thought of already with phones?"

Well lots of things that are available but aren't brought together in any single package, so water proof, wireless charging, decent speakers, metal chassis, with removable battery and SD slot for expansion. Now add in the stuff we want that isn't on offer, so one week to one month battery life in a package the same size, a capacitive touch screen that doesn't shatter when dropped, high def voice calls. And what about really simple stuff like enabling the phone to mute during selected sleep hours, so that I don't need to turn it off or on (and indeed a much simpler alarm/clock interface). On the software side, way better DLNA software, ideally with a decent remote control app for the phone. What about making bonk to pay actually work, and secure? Really easy integration of wireless screens, keyboards, mice and trackballs, so that when I've got the space and inclination I can flip display content to a bigger screen, and use a keyboard to type.

And that's all basic, already obvious or already patchily available stuff. Seems to me that there's plenty of things to go at without being revolutionary.

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European Commission plans net neutrality push

Ledswinger
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"I'm sure there will be some who don't like the idea."

I most certainly don't. Partly because I don't do sufficient roaming to care (and there's a plan already working that is forcing roaming costs down), but mainly because the enthusiasts have missed the sting in the tail: new services will only be allowed if they don't interfere with "normal internet activity". Note that for brain dead euroregulators, "cloud" computing is included as an example of a new service, indeed IPTV has been with us for a few years now. If you want some overpaid, underworked political appointee in Brussels to decide what you're allowed to do with the web, to avoid supposedly inconveniencing the "normal" internet use of downloading torrents and p0rn, then you're welcome. In practice this will put evolution of the internet in treacle, and ten years hence Europeans will be whining that the Americans AND the Asians are so far ahead of Europe, and isn't it unfair that they have richer and more robust economies.

OFCOM's bad enough. Adding some further layer of state and superstate bureaucracy to the mix isn't going to make things either better or cheaper. And if you think that a European regulator will prefer the interests of consumers over the lobbying of industry, then you must have been asleep for the past sixty years.

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Modular smartphones floated by Dutch designer chap

Ledswinger
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Re: What problem is this attempting to solve? @GJC

"what problem is this attempting to solve that is important enough to throw away a decade or more of clever component packaging and miniaturisation for?"

BURN THE HERETIC! BURN HIM!

Around these parts most of us think it hugely clever to launch paper planes in space, to f@rt around finding improbable uses for Raspberry Pis, we love the idea of loons trying to reinvent the airship, or boffins playing with railguns to fire bricks at Mach 5, of geeks cobbling together disparate bits of code to cause areas of a screen to flash selectively, or the simple meccano-like act of assembling your own PC, and you, sir, you have the temerity to challenge the dream with common sense. A pox on common sense, say I.

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Ledswinger
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"The phone from the ex-Nokia staffers that comes in two parts that can be slotted together."

Never mind Jolia, Nokia phones was a loss making module, slotted out of Nokia Corporation, and soon to be slotted into Microsoft's "acquisition disintegration slot". The same one previously and briefly occupied by aQuantive. And before that TellMe, Groove, Placeware, Massive, LinkExchange, Greenfield Online, Navision, Yammer.

Take your modular business, place it in the slot. Close the lid, announce to world + dog that great things will happen, press button, and Poooof! In a flash of light, hundred of millions, or maybe a few billion dollars of shareholder value are reduced to a few scattered sub atomic particles.

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Ledswinger
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Re: No@ jb99

They are not using tablets or smartphones as computers. They are using them as media players and simple games consoles. They are not computers, I don't know why the press thinks they are.

Given the default messaging capabilities, the fairly high functionality inherent in any phone's music player, and the complexity in many games, I'm not sure why you can't see that a modern phone is a computer, and arguably is the democratisation of computing (certainly in access terms; in privacy terms perhaps less so).

What would your definition be? Something like this, perhaps:

com·put·er (km-pytr): A three part device. The first part is a beige box containing a little exercised but unfeasibly fast processor, located on a desk surrounded by old coffee cups, crumbs and sweet wrappers, takeaway food cartons, and out of date print outs that must obscure the input devices. The second part is a fingerprint besmirched display screen, which has only three states: Off; lines and lines of code; adult content. The third, and in many ways defining component is an unhygenic male operative slouched in front of the desk, whose conversation and social skills are indicative of mild to moderate autism. Optional extras include the operative mumbling angrily to passers-by using words like grep, starnix, buffer overflow, packet sniffing arf arf, and the like. The word "user" may be frequently uttered, but only if spoken with Rinzler's curled lip,embodying contempt and anger, to aurally imply the word is synonymous with "loser" rather than "yew-ser" which might otherwise imply appropriate employment of a tool.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Saying nay

"Slimness is overrated IMO. There's no reason I should need to be able to shave with my edge of my smartphone. I'd rather have a device which feels steady in my hand."

I'll second that. All this nonsense of utlra slim phones simply means more opportunity for them to slip and get dropped, and half of them then have cases around them that doubles the thickness anyway. "Thin" looks good in marketing babble and possibly in the showroom. In the real world, I reckon there's a sweetspot for most people around about 9.5mm.

Can this proposal achieve that?

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Googorola now shipping 100,000 Moto X phones a week... from TEXAS

Ledswinger
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Re: Bring ALL the manufacturing back...

"Most jobs "lost" to outsourcing aren't coming back and will eventually be lost completely as automation takes over these jobs. "

Not soon, though. The sorts of manufacturing jobs we employ people for are, for the most part, suitable for state of the art automation, but the costs of automating are not economic by serveral orders of magnitude. For example, you could use a car welding type of robot to assemble burgers in a fast food outlet. But the cost wouldn't stack up. Likewise, most human work in manufacturing production is capable of being done by robots, but not at a cost the market will pay. Automation costs are dropping, and new technologies like 3D printing are coming along, but you're talking a long time before automation can replace ten-twenty dollar an hour production jobs in the US (or twenty dollar a month jobs in China).

So for the forseeable future the equation is about exchange rates, relative labour costs, transport costs and time to market. Where automation has had an impact is through the integration of previously discrete IC's onto the main processor, as SoC. And that's simplified the manufacture, and perversely made it possible to assemble in Western locations.

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Tell me why I don't like Moon days: Bob Geldof heads into SPAAACE

Ledswinger
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"Perhaps he could take Bono with him"

Wasn't this all a cartoon in Viz? If life is mirroring art, then Sting will be next, on a journey to the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

When we've proved the concept (and made sure these people don't come back) then perhaps we can start sending politicians. I'd like Clegg, Cameron, and that Millibloke to be fired at the sun in a cermonial start to the "production" operations.

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HP dumped from Dow Jones Industrial Average

Ledswinger
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Re: Legacy of Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd

"Equally accurate would be to say "Legacy of McKinsey""

Interesting you say that - I did think about mentioning how so many of the fads that HP's management followed (M&A your way out of trouble, Offshoring, BPO, "move into software, the water's lovely", etc) were probably influenced by wretched and useless management consultants, expensively peddling stupid ideas to directors who aren't big enough to say "no".

Indeed, when you look tound at floundering mega corps, all too often you find that they ignored their own people, hired some "blue chip" (Ha!) management consultants, and then let a bunch of highly intellectual yet inexperienced Ivy league or Oxbridge graduates come up with utterly stupid ideas like "matrix organisations". Which didn't work for Nokia, didn't work for P&G, didn't work for the mega corp I'm employed by, didn't work for Citi, didn't work for P&G, and evidently didn't work for HP. The lastest fad from these sorts of charlatans is the "Target Operating Model", in which people with no experience, no expertise in benchmarking, and no common sense tell the company how many people it needs to do the job, leading to more lay offs and further damage to customer service and reputation.

Should any of the readers of El Reg ever get to board level, remember that management consultants will buy you a very good lunch, but these people are your ENEMY. If you have organisational challenges, only you arnd your colleagues may get the answer, but never some bunch of spotty kids who have never done a proper job in their lives, and who won't be around when the resultant neglect of common sense, customers and the core business comes home to roost.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Legacy of Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd

" HP still makes $1bn+ (net) per quarter and will not disappear anytime soon."

When a company starts heading south, changes can come suddenly. Looking at HP accounts, revenues, costs and gross profits are all almost exactly where they were five years ago. But over on the balance sheet, shareholders equity is worth a lot less, and debt is three times what it was five years ago, and back on the P&L, net profit is almost the same as five years ago, with the simple and unfortunate difference it now has a minus sign in front of it. On the cash flow, cash from operations has declined by about 8% year on year for five years, representing almost $1bn less cash being generated from the "real" business each year.

Dell will soon disappear from the markets. Given their appalling performance HP could well be next. Activist investors and PE houses will be watching with interest, and if the useless, useless HP board would care to look over the gunwales of their ermine trimmed lifeboat, they'll see fins circling their boat. The usual response of HP management to having their boat rocked is to throw a few thousand employees into the water, but as the operating cash and debt numbers show, the day of reckoning approaches.

HP will have to break itself up, or somebody else will buy it and break it up, and evictions from benchmark indices continue the weakening of HP. Whether the divisions can be made good standalone companies, or they will just be sold piecemeal to competitors I don't know. The printers business is not too bad in HP performance terms (although both consumer and enterprise printing products look crap to me), the server business is doing OK. But the PC division needs to spun off to its own fate, as does the enterprise services BPO business. They may as well exit "distraction businesses" like financial services and software, as these are too small to make a difference despite the better margins.

All of which would be to say that HP needs to go back to its roots in business IT and printing. The whole "me too" nonsense of trying to stay competitive in PC making through acquisition has been a failure, the "me too" attempt to build a software business has been a failure, and the "me too" attempt to build a BPO operation has been a failure. Enterprise IT services seem to be profitable, but like the printers, the user experience stinks. I don't think the HP board have the wit or the gumption to see any of this, and I don't think that they have the determination or skill to improve the server, IT services, or printers businesses, having long ago cast off the skilled people who might have made the future different.

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First rigid airship since the Hindenburg cleared for outdoor flight trials

Ledswinger
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Re: Rigid Airships have a place@ Don Jefe

"Transporting equipment by helicopter sucks and is only done because there are no other options."

Actually, its not done much at all except by the military, and the military do it because it is fast, doesn't require any landing strip, and when it does land it can do so on a pocket handkerchief, a small deck area, or a bit of road. And they aren't carrying 250 tonnes, they're carrying a few troops, or a few tonnes of cargo. Being able to despatch three main battle tanks via airship doesn't get you much benefit in Iraq or Afghan.

Airships with large capacity will be slow, they will require very large cleared areas for landing, and I'm not convinced that they will be much more stable than a chopper when the airship has a cross sectional area not far off the sail area of the Cutty Sark. Think about 250 tonne point to point loads, and as I see it there simply isn't the volume of traffic in the civil sector - how many nuclear power station reactors or the like are there to transport?

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Ledswinger
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Re: it will probably be an expensive @ Jess

"<Pedant mode>

If your in England, your already in Europe.

<Pedant mode/>"

Speak for yourself....

(And do watch your spelling when in pedant mode, it does detract!)

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Ledswinger
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Re: it will probably be an expensive @ Boothy

"I think they would be more likely to compete with ocean going freight, "

I doubt it. Do the maths on the latest (and biggest) container ships, and you'll find you're going to need a lot of airships to replace a single ship. If we "go large" with the Maersk Triple E ships under construction, they carry 18,000 TEU, with a probable cargo weight of 180,000 tonnes. That's 720 of these airships, with a highly skilled crew of at least four or more (unless you land for crew changes). Obviously the airships travel at five times the speed of a ship on routes potentially half as long, but the Maersk Triple E has a crew of only 22. You point out that this would only be for intermediate loads, but where are they?

The reason many goods travel by sea is because the product cycles aren't fast enough nor the value high enough to permit air travel. And airships won't be materially cheaper. The challenge to sea borne containers is actually proposals to revamp the rail links across Asia, which exist but are slow and unreliable - but there's no will to do that, even though the time savings would be as great as your airship proposal, and the costs a lot lower. I doubt there's much mid merit cargo desperate for airship speeds - and in fact, if that's a problem, you move production closer to demand, rather than saving money moving where labour's free, and then paying loads to transport it back.

You posit point to point travel, but that's not going to happen for routine loads. Look at air traffic management systems, look at the volume of traffic carried by road - can you really see airships landing at you local Curry's? I can't.

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Ledswinger
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Re: it will probably be an expensive @ Jess

"Traveling time would go up by a factor of 5, I guess. But space would not be an issue. You'd be able to walk around or sleep. England to Europe would be fine."

You must be American. I can already catch a train to Europe from the UK, on which I can walk around, and it runs at up to twice the speed of an airship. If I want to waste a few hours I could catch a ferry, and if I want to get there quick then jet is the answer.

Cost of the airship is quoted by the company as around $55m dollars for the 250 tonne lifter. That's around what the airlines pay for a 737 with a 20 tonne cargo capacity. Obviously if you want to carry 250 tonne loads to runway free locations, there's only one choice - but if you are carrying normal air cargo then the 737 (or more likely a cheaper second hand 757 refitted) beats it hands down because most people aren't transporting 250 tonnes at a pop, most people live near enough an airport, and most people don't want to wait for an extra day for their air mail or air cargo to be delivered.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Rigid Airships have a place

"I would love to see commercial passenger travel using these, but alas, it will probably be an expensive boutique operation. Translation: I won't be able to afford it."

I suspect so. And I'd guess that the main cost problem will be the low productivity of the asset, caused by its slow speed. In the time this takes to get any reasonable distance, a conventional jet could have flow there and back twice including the turnarounds. Not only does that mean that the asset is less productive, but any crew will be similarly unproductive.

I'd love to see airships come back, but I can't see that they have any real advantages in any role other than perhaps high altitude unmanned surveillance (and the Yanks seem to have taken a good look and decided that's better done with conventional drones). Other slow endurance tasks (like maritime patrol) are probably ruled out by the need to fly in very poor weather at low altitude (and for military transport, it's too slow to be used other than outside of combat zones, which makes it a slow, inflexible, single purpose piece of kit. I don't see this supplanting C130s and A400M ever.

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Ledswinger
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Something about that picture makes me think of Ghostbusters.

For the next photo shoot boys, stand the short one on a box, get his hair cut, and look serious.

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IBM offloads customer services biz for half a BEELLION DOLLARS

Ledswinger
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Well done IBM

Having offshored tens of thousands of mid-wage jobs from the US and Europe, and delivered shite service at high cost to customers from zero wage overseas call centres, you now announce that this is a commodity business you no longer want a piece of.

Will this achievement be appearing in your corporate social responsibility report?

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Google scrambles to block backdoors

Ledswinger
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Re: That'll be news.

"It'd be interesting to be a fly on the wall in NSA and GCHQ over the next few months to see if there was a statistical drop in the number of important intercepts being made."

Why do you think they made any in the first place?

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Ledswinger
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Re: I really don't understand this move@Doug S

"The only thing that would make me feel (slightly) more comfortable would be if I encrypt the data with a key only I have so it is delivered to Google already encrypted, and sent back to me still encrypted and I have to decrypt it to use it."

And how do you know that the encryption standard hasn't arleady been either munged by the NSA (with their hundred million dollar budget to do just that) to make it easily crackable, or they haven't found a flaw that enables the same outcome?

The only way to keep your data safe is to keep it yourself, off net. Even that can be compromised by obvious means, but in any net addressable storage you have to assume that encrypted or not, it's fully open to the National Stasi of America, or their GCHQ poodles. Chinese hacking now looks like the least of anybody's worries.

All in all a real pity. Just as the technology made cloud solutions smart, cheap solutions that enabled clever things to be done, and then the bad guys suddenly make it unwise to use for anything other than backing up family photographs.

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Microsoft says axed certificates were FAILING its software biz

Ledswinger
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Re: Let me see if I understand this

"At the end of the day, that's the aim of these high-level certifications: To make sure people can design and build complex systems and there's rarely a straight Yes/No answer.

Surely that is the challenge. As often as not, complex mutli factor analyses have a binary output - to invest, or not. To upgrade or buy new, To acquire or divest. Obviously the random strike rate on simple yes/no answers would be a problem, but by factoring in questions at decision points within case studies or problems, with mutliple possible answers, surely it is feasible to ask sufficient questions that the accumulative evidence enables you can sort the wheat from the chaff? Arguably that's all that happens at most interviews, and even then in an imprecise manner. As for "competency" interviews, what are they if not tick boxes?

How do I know that my CIO knows his stuff? Certainly isn't that he had to write an essay as part of his masters. Simply that faced with complex problems he has relevant knowledge to enable succinct and useful business actions or recommendations. If we're capable of having binary machines that can come within a country mile of pass the Turing test, surely the inability of exam setters to come up with machine markable answers is a reflection on them, not the concept?

Written exams all too often are simply an endurance test, serving best those who write fast and eloquently and have good recall - without doubt useful skills, but not necessarily the ones that the exam is supposed to be testing. I believe that it would be possible to set a paper with mutiple choice answers that only a very highly qualified technical professional could answer. There's no reason that you couldn't do the same for much of education, testing specifically for the skills you need, rather than using proxies like the quality of structured prose, or arithmetic ability.

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Ofcom's head Ed may yet run the Beeb: UK gov 'mulls axing BBC Trust'

Ledswinger
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Re: Ofcom!

"Their track record is laughable. They don't even regulate and protect Spectrum properly and someone expects them to understand the very much complex BBC?"

The most horrifying thing is that Richards got the sinecure as head of OFCOM on account of being Ghastly Blair's mate. Having led the weakest and most ineffectual regulator, completely messed up national broadband roll out, done nothing to keep (for example) telcos from ramping "fixed" contract prices during the contract term, been useless in stopping unwanted commercial calls, failing to call a halt to the crappy DAB roll out (or plan for migration to DAB+), failed to properly control BT Openreach (and arguably similarly failed to open up VM's last mile network), failed to lead a debate and plan for a post-license fee world etc etc. Even on postal regulation, OFCOM have bent over backwards to allow the PO to shaft customers with pricing arrangements that would never survive if there were any competition.

So having achieved less than nothing, whilst pocketing over £350k a year, this berk's name is now being considered for the next head of the BBC, despite this poor track record, and the fact that his CV suggests he knows nothing about programme making, entertainment, journalism, or "content" in any form.

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Turnbull floats e-vote, compulsory ID

Ledswinger
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"Not quite. You are allowed to leave up to 10% of the boxes empty if you vote below the line in the senate, and the AEC will still consider your ballot to be formal. As for other errors when voting below the line, you are allowed up to three breaks in sequence or duplicated preferences, unless it's your first preference, of which there must be one and only one."

By the sound of it, the Oz voting system is already complex and well ***ed. Why the fuss about proposals to make it worse? As with most "democracies", the end result flip flops between a couple of barely distinguishable major parties, who only ever act in their own interests and beliefs, and then seem to have a like mind on (for example) spying on their own population, unleashing a never ending torrent of poorly thought through legislation, and persistently failing to manage either the economy or the budget.

At least you've got mostly sunny weather, and Chinese commodity demand to keep the economy afloat.

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Scientists demo light-controlled semiconductor

Ledswinger
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Re: Yes, early days and all that, but...@Don Jefe

" For example, the science underlying modern automotive safety glass was developed in experiments onboard the Space Shuttle."

Excuse my ignorance, but what's different about "modern automotive safety glass" compared to the thin, laminated, toughened glass that's been in use for many decades, and was in widespread use before the space shuttle was built?

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Don't tell the D-G! BBC-funded study says Beeb is 'too right wing'

Ledswinger
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Re: I'm now having a nostalgia for the seventies.

Contrast that with where we are, and where we're going in a few years:

Rubbish on the telly, Glaswegian trade unionists in the streets. Progressive rhetoric. Marxist power cuts.

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Want the latest Android version? Good luck with that

Ledswinger
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Re: It sounds like@Eddy Ito

I nominate you for the Reg commentard's James Joyce of the week award.

The prose was lovely,I just didn't understand what your point was.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Does it matter?

"Yes it does, but it shows the disrespect the makers have for their customers."

Initially I though the same, but now I'm less sure. There is a tiny bit of this, but I suspect that it is more that hardware makers don't really understand software, and users expectations of software. In the world of hardware,you make it you sell it, and you fix or replace a few under warranty until the last warranty expires,and then you wash your hands of it (certainly the model in consumer electronics - things differ in long life white goods, for example because there's a support and spares market for a decade or more).

The other thing to bear in mind is that mobile hardware has evolved so fast that a mid to low end handset from a couple of years ago may simply be incompatible or too sluggish running the latest version. Is the user really helped by an upgrade that gives new features but makes the whole phone really sluggish?

I'm pleased Google appear to be sidestepping the whole pantomime of waiting for device makers and telcos to get their act together.

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Xiaomi plans global domination with fast smartphones and software

Ledswinger
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Re: Good grief!

At those prices the 32GB version would be about £300 inc VAT.

Well, that's no surprise, given that the real manufacturing will be done by Sharp,Qualcomm, Taiwan Semicionductor, Samsung, Hynix etc. Xiaomi can specify (for example) extra thin parts, and therefore design the package, but they won't be able to buy the parts any cheaper, and in fact they'll have a lot less volume than the likes of Samsung. As Motorola are currently demonstrating, the costs of handset assembly are sinply a rounding error on the final sale price.

This is the problem facing Nokia. The value they add as a specifier and assembler is too low. Remember the PC box assemblers? Even Dell can't make a profit in end user PCs now. That's where mobile phone "manufacturers" are at the moment. As this outfit demonstrate (along with all the landfill Android) there's no barriers to entry in this market, and you either need to be behind the tech curve, low cost and disposable, or you need to have a brand behind you, and you still need some form of differentiation.

If you go by either "profitless" models like the Google Nexus 4, or take the Isuppli bill of materials and add through the other costs to retail, you find that there simply isn't a magical cheap way of making decent spec handsets, and the costs are broadly the same. At the very high end margins increase and there's room for some price competition, but the buyers at those price points generally are quite picky and brand sensitive.

Good luck to this outfit, we need some competition as other makers go down the pan or throw in the towel, but they'll need to be quite canny to outcompete Google at their own game.

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New! Yahoo! logo! shows! Marissa! Meyer's! personal! touch!

Ledswinger
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Re: Headline

"Along with all the rules about colours, borders and backgrounds the logo must always be at exactly 19° - it never said why..."

The reason is, not putting too fine a point on it, that marketing people, and particularly those associated with "brand" are twats.

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BT doles out measly 2GB to customers in Dropbox-alike BT Cloud

Ledswinger
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"I guess the NSA can't rummage through your files there......

I wouldn't bet on that."

But I wouldn't care. I just need 50GB and rising for my photos. If the Chinese will offer me that for free then they all big state stasi-eque state nose-pokers are welcome to riffle through my photo collection. In fact maybe that's a way forward for GCHQ and their useless spying chums - offer free cloud backup themselves. I've already paid these waster's salaries and kit costs, so I'd like 1TB please.

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Finns, roamers, Nokia: So long, and thanks for all the phones

Ledswinger
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Re: Nokia couldn't make a smartphone because it was too focused on the phone side.

"But basically they are designed like phones. Nokia was a phone company and tried to add other features to phones, not add phone features to handhelds PC"

And designed like Nokia phones. They never made a decent flip phone or clamshell; And their continuous obsession with thick candbar formats even in the initial smartphone era meant that their head on product versus the original iPhone was the Nokia 5800. So although functionally comparable in many ways, and with better multimedia hardware (sound quality, camera, screen colours), it was too thick, the screen too small, and it carried a ghastly resistive touchscreen. Put them side by side, try a capacitive glass screen and there's no comparison. Even the succesor Nokia X6 still had a smaller screen and thicker body than the then current iPhone 3GS. Nokia's choice of higher resolution on a small screen applied to both 5800 and X6 versus Apple, but at around 3 inches, absolute size trumped resolution every time.

Nokia's glories of pre-smartphone design were mainly in simplicity and robustness, never in stylish design. Nokia's smartphones had a non-simple UI thus losing the simplicity, they weren't (like any other smartphone) robust, and you then have to ask why people would prefer them?

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Hunt's 'paperless', data-pimping NHS plan gets another £240m

Ledswinger
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Meh

Re: The NHS of the future the ICO biggest customer

"The issue is trusting that the NHS can keep the data secure."

They don't at the moment, to judge by the findings of Leveson. So all the bleating from some posters about the risk to our privacy rather ignores the fact that should somebody actually want to have access to your records, they would probably be able to blag them. In fact, if you went and asked to verify your medical records (as a poster above mentions) how would your GP know or verify that you were in fact you? I go the the GP less than once every five years, so they'd have no idea who I was. I suspect with a bit of front any of you lot of a suitably similar age and ethnicity could (knowing my name, address and DOB) go and "check that my records were accurate". And in the unlikely event that a journo wanted to know my health history, a few backhanders would overcome the inhibitions of junior staff.

So why the big deal about electronic reords?

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Ledswinger
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Flame

Re: US Study. Zip code, gender & DOB identified 87% of *all* people in database.

"I wonder how the Minister would feel if someone managed to de-annonymize his records for example?"

The curious thing is why use the postcode at all? If you're in a new house you often don't have one for months, and for up to a year after you do, third party systems don't recognise the one you get allocated. On its own It isn't accurate enough to address things by, but is accurate enough to perhaps identify you by. And then we come to the problemette of who owns the postcode, who controls it, and what organisations have to pay to use it.

Cheif Idiot Cameron is determined to privatise the Post Office (not necessarily a bad idea) but allowing the private company to have the intellectual property of the postcode address file (PAF), which is an exceedingly bad idea. Taxpayers have already paid for the creation of the PAF infrastructure as a national asset, but Cameron thinks it would be a good idea to give it away. He's been told this is a bad idea by senior colleagues, and the gormless fool has ignored them. How's that going to work out? There will be inadequate controls to stop the privatised PO from changing and messing with the PAF at their own convenience, and I'm sure that an organisation as obsessively self focused and user unfriendly as the PO will immediately look to hike charges to use PAF. Maybe the regulator will step in? You think? Unfortunately not, the postal regulator is part of OFCOM, the owrld's most ineffectual and useless regulator - the same people who allowed them to introduce complex, inconvenient and user-hostile charges for parcels based on a combination of what shape it is, what size it is, and what weight it is (which is why Amazon's packaging suddenly became a lot crapper than it was).

I'm sure that the newly prvatised PO, running by Cameron's rich City mates will manage to make an expensive mess of all services that currently use postcodes, from health to commercial logistics, from mapping to third party parcels servicves.

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Ledswinger
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Devil

Re: Who foots the bill?

"The GPs aren't going to pay out £K to mailshot everyone. They have enough financial problems already."

The biggest financial problem GP's have is how to count the loot that they themselves take out of the system, with average salaries over £100k for a four day week, plus whatever they can get renting practice buildings back to the NHS, and milking incentives for additional services or performance. And the vast, vast majority don't dirty their hands or interrupt their golf by seeing patients out of surgery hours (or charge yet more to do so).

Try that in IT: Ask your boss for a six figure salary. But only doing IT work four days, the other day "updating your professional knowledge". No late nights, no weekends. A free hand to work privately in any capacity and for any employer you choose. Provide your own and your junior colleague's offices and rent them to your employer at a nice margin. And your competence and employability only to be judged only by your peers running the same arrangements.

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UK fraud office hauls Olympus into court over accounting scandal

Ledswinger
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Re: Interesting in Japan they committed fraud to cover *lossess*

""most fraud is committed to cover losses" or hide profit."

Most serious "report & accounts" level fraud for listed comapnies is committed to hide a failure to meet expectations. Sometimes that's losses, but usually it is that profits have been made, but are below market expectations. I worked at director minus one level for a company that went down due to accounting fraud (and whose directors are serving porridge, even under the lax UK approach to fraud). Operating profits and turnover were growing, but not as fast as the market expected.

The problem then is that having missed one quarter or half year's targets and falsified the difference, it is most unlikely that you will neet the subsequent period's yet higher targets (and to do so honestly requires you to back fill the cash hole your fraud created in the frist case, so an even bigger ask). The fraud gets bigger, and very soon you're having to pay dividends on false profits, leading quickly to debt and solvency problems. Even if you don't have cash problems, when the cat is out the bag it usually triggers breach of covenant clauses, the banks want their loans repaid, and then you certainly do have cash problems.

Incidentally, corporate accounting fraud creates an opportunity for unscrupulous lenders (= all of them) to trigger a solvency crisis, and take an otherwise sound company out of the hands of the shareholders, and then re-sell it as a going concern, keeping all the loot for themselves. Not mentioning any particular thieving Scottish based bank, of course.

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Gov IT write-off: Universal Credit system flushes £34m down toilet

Ledswinger
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Re: Peanuts

"Seems pretty trivial write off on a project of this scale - not a patch on the billions wasted on the NHS IT project."

That's because they've only just started, and they've only written off £34m of circa £425m spent to April. I've no doubt the 100 day review period is fully chargeable by the fat cat contractors, so the total to date will probably be around half a billion spent. As with NHS, FCS, or Nimrod, it isn't until they've spent billions they admit that things will never work.

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Give us a break: Next Android version to be called 'KitKat'

Ledswinger
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Re: Hershey giveaways

"Even worse, they apparently had a popular desert of pears poached in wine with custard. Yummy, but sadly it was fish sauce custard. For which the inventor should be burning in a very special hell."

How do you know?

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Ledswinger
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"But it means quite a bit to the company that updates Android (Google). Google is American, so the tie-in to them is more with Hershey than with Nestle. They had to contact Nestle simply because they hold the global trademark on the brand. That's the way it is, take it or leave it."

Well surely they should have gone for something through and through American? I'm sure Hersshey have got plenty of alternative and wholly owned brands that they apply to their disgusting, excrement flavoured mastic, and not had any embarassing need to deal with slightly suspect Swiss megacorps.

But I think that that Kit Kat was in fact perfect, in a brand name that has worldwide recognition, even if applied to completely different products. The alternative "Kisses" has no food related recognition in (say) Europe, excepet amongst a tiny handful who know it refers to a product made of mashed dead badgers and settled sewage sludges.

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Ledswinger
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Re: So Google and teamed up with Nestlé?

"Whatever happened to "Don't be evil"?"

They looked up the original commitment, and luckily it had been mis-typed: "Don't be Levi". So they haven't, and they can now be evil.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How about

"N - Nutella"

Disallowed. Nutella not a snack, merely a particularly disgusting concoction that should be force-fed to all European chocolate snobs. Maybe the Italian air foce could carpet bomb Belgium with the stuff.

I'm not really one for any cholcoate spread, but at least Cadbury's do a passable chocolate spread for the kids, unpolluted with the hazelnuts, acorns and sawdust that Nutella consists of. Mind you, only to be expected, as Nutella is made by Ferrero of Ferrero Rocher fame.

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Ledswinger
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Re: "They should've named the next version of Android after Kendal Mint Cake"

"No, no, you're thinking of Dwarf Bread, it lasts for months... years... decades... aeons!"

You're not thinking of Elven lembas? I tried to make some myself recently, based on a bag of out of date muesli, some almost out of date porridge oats, butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and a bit of honey. Nice, and definitely moreish, yet in some intangilbe way not quite the sum of its parts.

And I'm sure the out of date cereals weren't to blame - I'm a strong believer in "home maturing", with a particular predilection for out of date Stilton that tastes of soap and smells of ammonia - magic!

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Microsoft's $7.1bn Nokia gobble: Why you should expect the unexpected

Ledswinger
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The dancing dad of IT

They bought aQuantive to challenge Google, and in doing so dissolved $6bn dollars to nothing in a matter of months. To challenge Google they've thrown cash at Bing, and created the search engine nobody uses. The wasted money on Soapbox to challenge Youtube - anyone remember Soapbox now? They blew billions adding a touchscreen interface to Windows 8 to challenge Android, and the world and his dog hate it. They conjured up Surface to challenge Chromebooks even after Google had largely strolled on from them.

Seems to me that Microsoft are really desperate to be Google, ignoring the fact that Microsoft investors can already have their share of Google simply by buying the shares. Like a badly dancing dad, Microsoft are embarrassing themselves with failed attempts to keep up with the kids. Nokia have actually done the decent thing here, and let go of a business that they can't be successful in any more. Microsoft on the other hand have failed to learn that their business is a monopolistic enterprise gouging cash cow, and that's all their investors want. The laugh is, that even if they did make a Googlealike, by the time they have achieved that Google and its current business model will have either been supplanted by a newcomer, or morphed into something different.

Milk the existing franchises, but stop pretending you're going to create anything new, Steves.

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Microsoft - do you really think you can take on Google with Nokia?

Ledswinger
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Re: Nokia basically is wp8

A nice idea, but the reason Apple can do this is because they were customer centric (give the customer what they want before they even know they want it), and they were retail consumer focused (ie not business).

MS are now trying to play in too many markets, they still have an enterprise software bias, and they never, ever listen to customers. You think that'll change anytime soon?

I'm afraid this is just normal big company M&A - an onanistic activity indulged in by the boards of companies who want a diversion from problems in the core business that require hard work and pain. I know, my employers went on an ill judged European acquisition spree that required multi billion write downs, left the company hugely indebted, and forcing it to sell some of the good businesses it did have, and throw tens of thousands of employees out the door, and left us with a whole range of rag-bag assets in markets where we had neither scale nor purpose. Meanwhile the core business festered for a decade whilst these shenanigans played out, and is now under all out attack from various quarters, and the board still don't know what to do about it.

We'll hear the usual management consultant bullshit about "synergies" and growth. But they always say that. In blunt terms, what will MS be able to do that Nokia's management weren't? Both had unfavoured phone OSs, both had respectable cash piles to support development, both were dependant upon past glories. As the lower end Chinese handset makers show, anybody can knock out a basically competent handset in hardware. What does Nokia bring to the MS party?

Lets face it, all the manufacturing has (or will) end up in China, all the software development will be done in the states, and they won't need many Finn's to specify future phones, inevitably based on something like LG or Sharp touchscreen, Qualcomm and ARM baseband processors, Hynix memory modules, TI and CSR chips for the extra functionality, LG battery, ST Micro accelerometer & compass, and somebody else's camera.

The really remarkable thing is why MS didn't specify their own phone and have somebody else make it, just as Apple have done. No multi-billion assets at risk, can be quietly trialled under another name whilst you practice, and you have access to your OEM's expertise in phone making. Apple aren't the only virtual manufacturer, ARM, CSR, Imagination Technologies have all made a success of this on the inside of the phone. But all the people actually assembling phones are suffering the same fate as the PC assemblers, fighting over wafer thin margins and often making a loss because there's no barriers to entry in this market. And failing to learn the lessons of their own success, MS are buying into exactly the wrong part of the value chain, and doing it at the wrong time.

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Microsoft's Nokia plan: WHACK APPLE AND GOOGLE

Ledswinger
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Re: Skype is worth more!

"Ok, how does it work out that Skype is worth $8.5billion but a company that makes things and has an investment in actual things is worth $7.2billion?"

Because intellectual property is far more highly valued than tools and fixed assets. Most physical assets are subject to depreciation - they wear out, and require relatively expensive maintenance and repair. And other than patented or registered designs (which are IP) almost all physical assets are easily replicated. So you could spend £20m on a new production plant, but other than any trade secrets and patents, there's nothing to stop anybody from setting up a plant making a similar product, be that a phone, or a bucket.

A good patent requires no maintenance or repairs, and a decent bit of code can last for donkey's years. You might suggest that Silverlight (for example) isn't such code and you'd be right, but I'd raise you the kernel of NT, which has been and remains the foundations of desktop Windows for two decades. Likewise, the cobweb infested Cobol that keeps so many banks in business was written donkey's years ago, and still works. MS Office hasn't really evolved much in the past decade, with the bulk of the functionality unchanged - sticking a disjointed new UI on the front of your OS or your applications is only window dressing, and the core IP remains what it was. Now Android is relatively stable, how much will the kernel really change? Likewise IoS.

Normally brand is another excuse for paying through the nose. But in this case the Nokia brand is a bit shabby and soiled by the reversals of strategy and the muted reception for WinPho, whereas Skype was seen (by MS) as new, exciting, sexy, and unsoiled.

Looking at the history, the odds are against MS. They don't have a name for good hardware, they have a very poor record of making a success of acquisitions, they've been very poor when trying to make money in new markets, and they've just made a biblical mess with the entirely foreseeable botch up over Windows 8. At the core of all these failures has been a corporate arrogance, a refusal to listen to customers, which probably comes from their near monopoly in business and office OS and productivity software. If they can sell WinPho/Nokia products in volume to gormless enterprise CIOs then maybe it will all work out, or if Nokia's goodwill in emerging markets is retained. I don't see this myself.

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